Keep it about the kids– NEVER discuss adult issues with your children. No matter what is going on between Mom and Dad, they only need to know about the issues that will impact them. This includes where they’re going to live, and how often they’re going to see you. Also, it is important to be honest. If you don’t know the answers to some of their questions you need to tell them that you don’t know but “the adults are going to work together to figure it out.”
Stay unified with your Ex- Nothing is worse for a child, but to hear one thing from their Mom and another thing from their Dad. Although it may be difficult, try to identify any agreements you have with your Ex. Then tell the children those agreements. If there is a disagreement, and your child asks you about it, use the line I suggested above and say- “I don’t know that right now, but the adults are going to work together to figure it out.” It also may be helpful to keep an email chain with your ex keeping him or her updated on the questions the kids are asking, and letting him or her know how you responded. This free-flow of communication will ultimately serve your children’s best interests.
It’s not the kid’s fault– It is important that the kids never feel as if your separation is their fault. I suggest that you tell the kids something along the lines of “we just grew apart, or “Your Mom is a great Mom, but we didn’t work as a couple.” It is important that the kids never get insight on why you truly think you’re getting a divorce, as it is likely an adult issue that your children are not mature enough to understand.
Wait until you’re sure your marriage is over– Never tell your kids that you’re getting a divorce until you and your spouse are on the same page. I often see couples sit on the fence for months or years before they decide to take the ‘divorce plunge’. If you’re not sure you’re truly going to get divorced, then don’t tell the kids. The worst thing for a child is to be constantly worried that his or her parents may get divorced. It is best to avoid that worrying all together and wait until you and your spouse are absolutely certain.
Stay Calm- Children pick up on everything. If during your initial separation you’re weepy or easily irritated the kids can pick up on that. So take care of yourself so you stay as calm as possible. It is absolutely okay to grieve, but do that when your kids are with your Ex. Your kids are likely grieving too, so it is important to be the adult, and take care of them.
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